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Preprints: How to Cite Preprints

How to Cite a Preprint for NIH

To claim an interim research product, including a preprint, as a product of an NIH award, the NIH expects that the awardee will:

  • Make the product publicly available. To maximize the impact of an interim research product, the NIH strongly encourages awardees to select a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license or dedicate their work to the public domain.  
  • In the text of the document:
    • Acknowledge NIH funding in accordance with NIH Grants Policy Statement Chapter 8.2.1
    • Clearly state that the work is not peer-reviewed
    • Declare any competing interests, as an author would do for any journal article

To cite the interim research product, applicants and awardees must include the Digital Object Identifier and the Object type (e.g. preprint, protocol) in the citation. Also list any information about the document version (e.g. most recent date modified), and if relevant, the date the product was cited.

For applications submitted for the May 25, 2017 due date and thereafter, awardees can claim these products on their progress report publication list.  They can also report them on their RPPR as of May 25, 2017, and link them to their award in their My Bibliography account. 

Source: Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products

  • Awardees are not required to create interim research products through their NIH award.
  • Applicants are not required to cite interim research products as part of their grant applications.
  • Since preprints are not published in peer-reviewed journals, they do not fall under the NIH public access policy.

How to Add a Preprint Citation to My Bibliography

If the preprint has a record in PubMed, add the citation to the preprint using the "Add to My Bibliography" tool.

If the preprint does not have a record in PubMed, manually enter the citation using the "Add Citations" tool in My Bibliography. Select the "Interim Products" template for the preprint. 

Guidance and Screenshots:

Video for Adding Preprints to My Bibliography

ICMJE Recommendations for Citing a Preprint

The December 2021 ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals included guidance on selecting a preprint server and citing preprints in manuscripts. See the 2021 Annotated Recommendations for more information.